Power takes St. Jude Classic lead, by one stroke, with 65Field Level Media
June 07. 2018 9:10PM
Seamus Power sits alone atop the leaderboard after one round at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tenn., thanks to a 5-under-par 65 on Thursday.
The 31-year-old Irishman got off to an eventful start, tallying three birdies in the first five holes along with a bogey at No. 4. After settling in with five straight pars, he birdied the 11th, the 16th and the 18th.
Despite hitting just six of 14 fairways, Power found 14 of 18 greens and didn’t miss a putt under 13 feet all round.
A pack of 11 players, led by Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, sits one stroke back at 4 under. The other nine are Troy Merritt, Wesley Bryan, Chris Kirk, Michael Kim, Brandon Harkins, Steve Stricker, 2015 winner Fabian Gomez of Argentina, Canada’s Mackenzie Hughes and Australia’s Stuart Appleby.
The field’s second-highest ranked player at No. 9 in the world, Koepka started his round with a birdie at the 10th before ripping off four in a row at Nos. 18, 1, 2 and 3.
A bogey at the seventh dropped him back into a tie for second.
“Today I felt like I scored really well,” Koepka, who tied for second at the event in 2016, said after his round. “I didn’t play well at all, to be honest with you. We hit some pretty poor shots, we were kind of all over the place, but hope to figure this out for the rest of the week.”
The defending U.S. Open champion is playing in just his fifth event this year after battling a wrist injury for several months. He tied for 11th at The Players Championship in May and finished second at the Fort Worth Invitational two weeks ago.
World No. 8 Jason Day and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson will join Koepka in a threesome next Thursday at Shinnecock Hills for the first round of the Open.
Koepka said, “I’m not looking forward — you know, anything — toward next week. It all just depends what the shot is here. I mean, there’s nothing better than winning a golf tournament going into a major. I feel like I’m playing well enough to do that.”
Mickelson also began his day on the back nine and was quiet early on, totaling one birdie and nine pars through 10 holes. He then birdied No. 2 and eagled the par-5 third hole before dropping a shot at No. 5 and getting one back at No. 8.
Mickelson joined Koepka as a runner-up at the St. Jude Classic in 2016 and also tied for second in 2013.
A cluster of 10 players sit tied for 13th at 3 under, including world No. 2 Dustin Johnson.
Johnson’s 3-under start through eight holes was sullied by a double-bogey at No. 9, where he put his approach shot short in the water. He rebounded, however, chipping in for birdie with his bare right foot submerged in the pond at No. 12 and also birdieing the 16th to get back to 3 under.
Johnson said of his watery recovery at No. 12, “It wasn’t a very easy shot and I actually didn’t hit it very well. I just got lucky and it went in the hole.”
Daniel Berger, who won the event in 2016 (at 13 under) and 2017 (at 10 under), shot an even-par 70 and sits in a tie for 56th.